Mellon Foundation Grant Expands Impact and Scope of Career Diversity for Historians

The American Historical Association is pleased to announce the receipt of a $1.5 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to continue and expand its work on Career Diversity for Historians. Launched in 2014 after several years of preliminary work, Career Diversity for Historians supports an exploration of the culture and practice of doctoral education in history. Pilot programs at Columbia University; the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of Chicago; and the University of New Mexico have devised new courses and programming, including doctoral internships, revised professionalization seminars, new community spaces, and innovative grants. The initiative also includes substantial programming at the AHA annual meeting and the creation of several key resources for students and faculty, now housed on the AHA’s Career Diversity for Historians web page (historians.org/careerdiversity).
Career Diversity for Historians

Beginning in 2017, the expansion of the initiative will help history departments better articulate the purpose and value of history PhDs, as well as continue the AHA’s path-breaking work in creating new resources for graduate students and early career historians. At the center of this next phase of the initiative is a two-fold realization: that the skills and attributes required for a broader range of career paths also make for better professorial work, and that history PhDs are unevenly prepared for the teaching and administrative aspects of faculty positions in the 21st-century world of higher education. The goal of this work is to empower doctoral students to explore a variety of careers, and to help departments become more deliberate about how their graduate curricula and programming align with their students’ career aspirations and actual outcomes.

Over the next three years, the new grant will enable the AHA to expand the impact of its Career Diversity initiative by addressing central questions about structural and cultural issues in graduate education. First, a yearlong set of faculty institutes will bring the insights gleaned from Career Diversity’s four pilot sites to up to 40 doctoral programs, selected from an open call for applications. The institutes will emphasize the convergence between maintaining rigorous research standards and preparing PhD students for work both beyond the professoriate and as teachers in higher education.

Participants in the faculty institutes will be eligible to apply for funding to support a Career Diversity Fellow, selected from doctoral students in their department. Fellows will hold two-year appointments equivalent to teaching or research assistantships and will work closely with a faculty team to plan programming and seminars to cultivate cultural and curricular change within the department. Collaboration across institutions will be encouraged.

As part of this next stage, the AHA will also expand its current data-gathering efforts to create a single, online interactive database of comparable data on the career outcomes of all history PhD recipients in the United States between 2004 and 2013. The new grant also enables the continuation of AHA Career Contacts, the AHA’s successful informational interview matching program, as well as the creation and dissemination of additional resources related to doctoral education, including a census of existing programming in history departments.

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